Very Formative Papers

Any book a reasonably intelligent person reads between the ages of 14-16 becomes a Very Formative Book.  “Formative” can be positive or negative, but during those impressionable years, any book worth reading will leave the young reader with a strong sense of accepting or rejecting the author’s view.

I spent the first part of that window (perhaps inauspiciously) reading everything ever written by Ayn Rand, then Aristotle, and I finished those Formative Years — exhausted from pedantics, probably — on the opposite end of the spectrum, with Noam Chomsky and Jack Kerouac.

Wisdom of spending those formative years on officious writing aside, this is fact imitiating fiction.  There’s a scene in The Fountainhead where Gail Wynand, future newspaper tycoon, learns what capitalism looks like when devoid of integrity.  When Wynand was at that Formative Age his boss demonstrated how to run a newspaper.

The paper ran two articles, side by side, both asking for donations.  One showed a promsing young scientist who wanted to experiment with the 1950’s equivalent of stem cell research.  Next to it ran a photo of pregnant teenager with an already-existent brood and no known father.  Only the teenager brought in any donations, to the tune of, say, $15,000; the scientist garnered maybe $218.

Object lesson?  Empathy pays.

Today the NYT ran an article about why Dan Froomkin was fired.  Apparently it “wasn’t ideological”; he simply wasn’t pushing enough paper.

The Article:

The political columnist Dan Froomkin was hired by The Huffington Post last week, two short weeks after being fired by a more traditional Post, the venerable newspaper in Washington.

Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch column. Its popularity declined with the departure of the Bush administration.

In his departure from The Washington Post, there may be a lesson for journalists: keep close tabs on Web traffic.

Mr. Froomkin said that executives told him that they were reviewing all contracts for the Web site. The two sides had clashed in the past over the column, including over Mr. Froomkin’s tendency to criticize the news media. Mr. Rosen said he believed The Post cited traffic declines to feed its narrative that “the column had run its course.”

The paper’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, said in a blog post that “reduced traffic played a big role” in the decision. Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of The Post, told The City Paper that “his traffic had gone way down.”

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One response to “Very Formative Papers

  1. gratefulness you for your report and it helped me in preparing my college assignment.

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